Reston, Virginia - A bill to establish a "Digital Coast" program, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) develops a coordinated and comprehensive national mapping effort for coastal, state and territorial waters of the United States, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, earning praise from MAPPS.

The Digital Coast Act of 2012, H.R. 6475, was introduced Sep. 21, by U.S. Representatives C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Don Young (R-AK).

MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello said, "The 'Digital Coast Act' is needed to realize the concept of a 'Digital Coast' as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The Digital Coast Act provides an opportunity to help America's ocean, coastal and shoreline areas by addressing issues raised by the U.S. Oceans Commission, the Pew Commission, as well as several NAS reports, all of which have highlighted the need for surveying, charting, remote sensing and geospatial data of America's coasts, harbors, ports, shorelines and ocean resources critical to the nation's most basic economic and recreational activities, to smartly conserve a fragile environment."

MAPPS President Richard "Dick" McDonald, CP, PLS (T3 Global Strategies, Inc., Bridgeville, Pa.) said, "This Digital Coast program within NOAA will also coordinate the pooling of resources from multiple agencies (federal, state and local) and other stakeholders to map the various needs once, and then utilize and apply the high-quality data and products numerous times, thus reducing taxpayer waste while maximizing the return on investment for all stakeholders."

The "Digital Coast" is a geospatially-enabled program to improve coordination and support work with stakeholders to identify geospatial priorities; improve coordination of coastal mapping and management activities; use standards and standardized methods for data acquisition, processing and distribution to ensure broadest utility of data; promote best practices when applying geospatial data for coastal decision making; and contract for the collection and creation of quality non-navigation feature data sets to include: shoreline change, satellite and aerial imagery, land use and land cover maps, benthic habitat mapping, terrestrial topography, shallow water bathymetry and submerged aquatic vegetation.

"In 2009, Congress enacted Public Law 111-11 creating an integrated oceans and coastal mapping (IOCM) program. This language required the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a plan to acquire, disseminate, establish standards and provide services in connection with various types of geospatial data. Although this language was a step in the right direction, H.R. 6475 is needed to truly satisfy the robust concept of a 'Digital Coast' and we commend Reps. Ruppersberger and Young for working in a bipartisan manner to do so," concluded Palatiello.